A basic feature of carbon fibre reinforced composites is their characteristic anisotropy which comes from the fibre’s orientation and properties. Regarding dimensioning and design as well as manufacturing and machining, special attention has to be paid to the fibre orientation and distribution because mechanical and thermal behaviour of the component will be strongly influenced.
Non-destructive analysis of components made of fibre reinforced composites prior as well as in between several test cycles provides a detailed inside view of the material’s microstructure and its three-dimensional composition. Occurrence and propagation of material failure may be examined and characterized systematically by x-ray computed tomography (CT). With the CT data, it is possible to identify critical areas for the generation of defects in order to analyse the influence of microstructural properties as for example unfavourable wall thickness or curvature radius, non-properly windings or gluing joints in detail. In combination with experimental data from thermal and mechanical testing valuable information for a better material specific component design may be obtained which takes into account the material’s particular unisotropic properties and helps to avoid failure critical geometries from the beginning on. However, this is the way how non-destructive three-dimensional CT analysis actively contributes to the design process of a single structure component or even complete structural units.